Yo La Tengo's I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass Kicks it Pretty Well
J. Gordon
10/11/2006 9:45:45 PM

I’m not sure exactly how many albums Yo La Tengo has to their name, but you can bet it’s a lot. And over the course of these many years, they have produced consistently enjoyable, occasionally great indie rock that is heavy on the bleary hearted fuzz and the often obtuse-yet-somehow-meaningful lyrics that are always distinctly a part of the Yo La Tengo sound. So upon release of their latest, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass [Matador], you could pretty much expect it would stay in the same vein of coolness. And you’d be part-right. While maybe not of the emotional weight and musical caliber of CDs like Painful, most tracks on this album also hurt just a little, in a beautiful way.

The opening track to this CD, “Pass the Hatchet, I think I’m Goodkind,” is this band at its best. The psychedelic vibe is heavy, with an 80 mph driving beat that soars alone with only you into a pale blue horizon. You aren't sure where you're going, but you sure don't want to turn back because fuck if this isn't cool. [confession: this writer was on a road trip on first listen].

The second track, “Beanbag” is radically different in a jaunty, old-fashioned way. It’s a sweet tune with lovely harmonies that really show off the grace and range of this band. Sometimes the range does stretch a bit farther than might be appreciated, however, and tracks like “Mr. Tough” should have been left for a goofy B-sides CD. “The Room Got Heavy” is weird and delightful, and the crackle of rainfall behind the beautiful instrumental, “Daphnia,” is at once soothing and sad. In so many of these tunes, the instrumentals are the strongest tracks. Throughout the CD, words are peppered in more like musical accents than lyrics meant to make any kind of actual point.

“Watch Out For Me Ronnie” sounds like a great old punk ditty that collided with a cello (and pulls it off successfully), and “Point and Shoot” is another stunning beauty. The title of this CD, and the songs on it, are all abstract and humorous, and that goes double for the concluding tune, “The Story of Yo La Tango” (misspelling intentional). Story? There’s no story. Just a play on how so many people have gotten them wrong over the years, applied to a wonderful musical pastiche that stretches across so many moods to run almost twelve minutes. But hey, that is their story, isn’t it?

Maybe it's not YLT's best, but it is certainly worth picking up.


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